View of the Channel Islands National Park

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13 Amazing West Coast National Parks From North To South

Embark on a journey through the West Coast’s breathtaking landscapes and diverse ecosystems as we explore the 13 stunning national parks in Washington State, Oregon, and California. From the majestic peaks of the Cascade Range to the rugged coastline of the Pacific Ocean, each park offers a unique and unforgettable adventure. Join us as we delve into the beauty and wonder of these natural wonders that define the heart and soul of the American West by exploring the 13 amazing West Coast National Parks.

Traveling from north to south, you will experience an incredibly diverse collection of natural wonders. Although this would make for a very long drive, turning this into an epic road trip would be the trip of a lifetime. The driving distance from North Cascades National Park in Washington State to Joshua Tree National Park in California is approximately 1,200 to 1,300 miles (1,930 to 2,090 kilometers), and that does not take in any of the other parks along the way. It typically takes around 20 to 24 hours of driving time to cover this distance without factoring in breaks or overnight stops. Reaching all the parks in one trip would take about 58 hours of driving and 2,800 miles. But think of how incredible this trip would be.

If you can’t spare the time for 60 hours on the road plus all the time to explore each park, you could easily break the West Coast National Parks road trip into 3 or 4 sections and have several unforgettable experiences. Here is a list of all the parks and some highlights from each as you travel north to south.

Before You Go

Before you explore the 13 West Coast National Parks or any of the incredible National Parks, invest in an America The Beautiful Pass. It is truly one of the best bargains in travel. The annual pass will get you admission to over 2,000 National Parks, historic sites, and recreation areas, all for $80! Plus, not only does the pass get you into the park, but it is also applicable to up to 3 guests traveling with you. But the real bargain is the senior pass, if you are over 62 you can get a lifetime pass for $80! Check out the pass information here.

Hiking trail with wild flowers blooming in Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier National Park Photo By Stephanie Bergeron from Unsplash

West Coast National Parks of Washington State:

North Cascades National Park

Nestled in Washington State’s rugged wilderness, North Cascades National Park, our first of the 13 West Coast National Parks, beckons adventurers with its towering peaks, dense forests, and pristine alpine lakes. This majestic park, often called the “North American Alps,” offers a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking solace in nature’s embrace. 

Established in 1968, North Cascades National Park preserves a vast expanse of wilderness spanning over 500,000 acres. European explorers and fur traders began venturing into the area in the 19th century, drawn by its abundant natural resources and stunning beauty. 

Highlights of a Visit:

Visitors to North Cascades National Park are treated to a wealth of natural wonders and outdoor adventures. Here are some highlights not to be missed:

  • Scenic Drives: The North Cascades Highway, one of the most scenic drives in the United States, offers panoramic views of the rugged landscape. Marvel at cascading waterfalls, towering peaks, and old-growth forests as you wind your way through the heart of the park. Allow at least an hour for the 30-mile drive, plus extra time for stops along the way.
  • Hiking Trails: Lace up your boots and hit the trails to explore the park’s pristine wilderness, from strolls to challenging backcountry hikes. Take advantage of iconic routes like the Cascade Pass Trail and the Sahale Arm Trail, which offer unparalleled vistas of the surrounding mountains.
  • Wildlife Viewing: Look for the park’s diverse wildlife, including black bears, mountain goats, and bald eagles. Birdwatchers will delight in spotting rare species like the peregrine falcon and the northern spotted owl.
Closest Major Airport:

The closest major airport to North Cascades National Park is Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), located approximately 130 miles (210 kilometers) southwest of the park.

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park, in the heart of the Pacific Northwest, features snow-capped peaks, pristine alpine meadows, and cascading waterfalls. This iconic park offers visitors a glimpse into the untamed wilderness of the Cascade Range.

Established in 1899, Mount Rainier National Park is one of the oldest national parks in the United States. The park’s namesake, Mount Rainier, is an active stratovolcano and the highest peak in the Cascade Range, standing at an impressive 14,410 feet (4,392 meters) above sea level. 

Highlights of a Visit:

Mount Rainier National Park visitors have so many options when it comes to experiencing the park. Here are some highlights not to be missed:

  • Paradise: Explore Paradise’s subalpine meadows and old-growth forests, one of the park’s most popular destinations. Hike along scenic trails such as the Skyline Loop Trail or marvel at the summer wildflower displays.
  • Sunrise: Visit the northeastern corner of the park to discover Sunrise, the highest point accessible by car. From here, you can enjoy panoramic views of Mount Rainier and the surrounding peaks or hike to explore the trails and alpine lakes. Plan ahead when visiting either the Paradise or Sunrise corridors. Timed entry reservations are required for both areas during the peak summer months. 
  • Waterfalls: Discover the park’s spectacular waterfalls, including the iconic Christine Falls, Narada Falls, and Comet Falls. Marvel at their sheer power and beauty as they thunder down from the mountain’s slopes.
Closest Major Airport:

The closest major airport to Mount Rainier National Park is Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), located approximately 80 miles (130 kilometers) northwest of the park. 

Rialto Beach in the fog with single person walking on the beach
Olympic National Park Photo By Nathan Demlao from Unsplash

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park’s lush forests and rugged coastline are a natural wonder and biodiversity sanctuary. Encompassing nearly one million acres of pristine wilderness, this UNESCO World Heritage Site offers visitors a glimpse into the diverse ecosystems that thrive within its boundaries.

Established in 1938, Olympic National Park is renowned for its dramatic landscapes and rich ecological diversity. Its origins can be traced back to the early 20th century when conservationists and outdoor enthusiasts rallied to protect the region’s unique ecosystems from logging and development. Today, Olympic National Park attracts millions of visitors each year with its stunning scenery and abundant wildlife.

Highlights of a Visit:

Visitors to Olympic National Park should be sure to check out the following outdoor adventures:

  • Hurricane Ridge: Explore Hurricane Ridge, a mountainous area renowned for its sweeping vistas and alpine meadows. Take a scenic drive along Hurricane Ridge Road or hike to explore the park’s subalpine wilderness and spot wildlife like deer, marmots, and black bears.
  • Hoh Rainforest: Immerse yourself in the ancient beauty of the Hoh Rainforest, one of the wettest places in North America. Wander along moss-draped trails as towering trees loom overhead, or venture deeper into the forest to discover hidden waterfalls and tranquil streams.
  • Kalaloch Beach and Ruby Beach: Explore the rugged coastline of Olympic National Park at Kalaloch Beach and Ruby Beach, where towering sea stacks and tide pools await exploration. Stroll along sandy shores strewn with driftwood and watch the waves crash against the rocky shoreline as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean. Discover the wonders of the intertidal zone by exploring the park’s tide pools, where an array of marine life thrives amidst the rocky shore. Spot colorful sea stars, anemones, and hermit crabs as you uncover the secrets of this dynamic ecosystem.
Closest Major Airport:

The closest major airport to Olympic National Park is Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), located approximately 130 miles (210 kilometers) east of the park. From the airport, visitors can rent a car and drive to the park, enjoying scenic views of the Olympic Peninsula.

View of Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park Photo By Dan Meyers from Unsplash

West Coast National Parks in Oregon

Crater Lake National Park

Nestled in the rugged landscapes of southern Oregon, Crater Lake National Park stands as a testament to the raw power of nature. With its stunningly blue waters, towering cliffs, and diverse ecosystems, this natural wonder draws visitors worldwide to marvel at its beauty. 

Formed over 7,700 years ago by the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Mazama, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and one of the clearest in the world. Native American tribes such as the Klamath have long revered the lake as a sacred site, while European explorers first laid eyes on its pristine waters in the mid-19th century. In 1902, Crater Lake was established as the nation’s sixth national park, preserving its unique geological and ecological features for future generations.

Highlights of a Visit:

Oregon may have only one park on the list of the 13 West Coast National Parks, but Crater Lake National Park visitors have a wealth of natural wonders and outdoor adventures. Here are some highlights not to be missed:

  • Rim Drive: The 33-mile Rim Drive encircles the entire lake and offers breathtaking views of its azure waters and surrounding cliffs. Stop at overlooks such as Discovery Point and Watchman Overlook to snap photos and soak in the awe-inspiring scenery. Allow at least 2 hours for the drive, plus more time for stops and traffic during peak season.
  • Cleetwood Cove Trail: Descend 700 feet (213 meters) down the steep Cleetwood Cove Trail to reach the lake’s shoreline. During the summer, you can enjoy swimming, fishing, and boat tours. To see the lake from a different perspective, cruise around it and marvel at its pristine waters. Boat tours are offered during the summer.
  • Wizard Island: Take a boat tour to Wizard Island, a cinder cone volcano rising majestically from the waters of Crater Lake. Hike to the summit for panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, or explore the island’s trails and beaches at your leisure.
Closest Major Airport:

The closest major airport to Crater Lake National Park is Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport (MFR), located approximately 75 miles (121 kilometers) southwest of the park. 

View of the sun streaming through the redwoods in Redwoods National Park
Redwoods National Park Photo By Rini Susan from Unsplash

West Coast National Parks of California (more than any other state in the country)

Redwood National Park

Located along the rugged coastline of Northern California, Redwood National, and State Parks are testaments to the majesty and resilience of the world’s tallest trees. With their towering redwood forests, pristine rivers, and diverse wildlife, these iconic parks offer visitors a glimpse into the ancient wonders of the natural world. 

Redwood National and State Parks owe their existence to a grassroots conservation movement that began in the early 20th century. Recognizing the need to protect the remaining old-growth redwood forests from logging and development, activists and environmentalists campaigned tirelessly for their preservation. In 1968, Redwood National Park was established, followed by the addition of several state parks in the surrounding area. Today, this UNESCO World Heritage Site serves as a sanctuary for some of the world’s largest and oldest trees, ensuring their survival for generations.

Highlights of a Visit:

Redwood National and State Parks visitors will find outdoor adventures and natural wonders. Here are some highlights not to be missed:

  • Avenue of the Giants: Take a scenic drive along the Avenue of the Giants, a 31-mile (50-kilometer) stretch of road winding through towering groves of ancient redwoods. As you explore this iconic scenic route, Marvel at these majestic trees’ sheer size and beauty. This is where the iconic images of cars driving through the base of the tree were taken, so get your camera ready.
  • Fern Canyon: Embark on a hike through Fern Canyon, a lush gorge lined with towering walls of fern-covered cliffs. Follow the meandering stream as it winds through the canyon floor, immersing yourself in the primeval beauty of this ancient landscape. If you plan to drive to Fern Canyon during the summer months, you will need a free parking reservation, something to keep in mind for your visit.
  • Tall Trees Grove: Venture into the heart of the park to discover the Tall Trees Grove, home to some of the tallest trees on Earth. Hike along shaded trails as towering redwoods soar overhead, their massive trunks reaching toward the sky in silent testament to the passage of time. This long half-day hike requires a reservation and is considered strenuous.
Closest Major Airport:

The closest major airport to Redwood National and State Parks is Arcata-Eureka Airport (ACV), located approximately 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of the park. 

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Deep in the rugged landscapes of Northern California, Lassen Volcanic National Park is the least visited of California’s National Parks. With its bubbling mud pots, steaming fumaroles, and jagged peaks, this hidden gem offers visitors a glimpse into the dynamic forces that shape our planet. 

Lassen Volcanic National Park’s story is one of fiery eruptions and geological upheaval. The park’s origins date back to May 1914, when Mount Lassen, a long-dormant volcano, roared back to life with a series of explosive eruptions. Recognizing the need to protect this unique landscape, President Theodore Roosevelt declared the area a national monument later that year. In 1916, Lassen Volcanic National Park was established, becoming one of the nation’s earliest national parks. 

Highlights of a Visit:

Lassen Volcanic National Park visitors have so many areas to explore; here are some highlights not to be missed:

  • Bumpass Hell: Explore the otherworldly landscapes of Bumpass Hell, the park’s largest and most accessible hydrothermal area. Follow the boardwalk as it winds through a surreal landscape of boiling mud pots, steaming fumaroles, and colorful mineral deposits.
  • Lassen Peak: Summit the iconic Lassen Peak, the largest plug dome volcano in the world. Hike along the rugged trail to reach the summit, where sweeping views of the surrounding landscape await. On a clear day, you can see as far as Mount Shasta to the north and the Sierra Nevada mountains to the south.
  • Manzanita Lake: Relax and unwind at Manzanita Lake, a tranquil oasis nestled beneath the shadow of Lassen Peak. Rent a kayak or canoe to explore the lake’s pristine waters, or cast a line and try your luck at catching rainbow trout or brook trout.
Closest Major Airport:

The closest major airport to Lassen Volcanic National Park is Sacramento International Airport (SMF), located approximately 190 miles (305 kilometers) southwest of the park. 

Steaming thermal waters in Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Lassen Volcanic National Park Photo By Adrian Valverde from Unsplash

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is a land of towering granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and ancient sequoia trees in California’s heart of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The iconic Yosemite National Park has captured the hearts and imaginations of visitors for generations. 

Yosemite’s story dates back thousands of years when indigenous tribes such as the Ahwahneechee and Miwok called this region home. The park’s modern history began in 1864, when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant, protecting the Mariposa Grove and Yosemite Valley as a public trust. In 1890, Yosemite became the nation’s third national park, paving the way for preserving its pristine landscapes and iconic landmarks.

Highlights of a Visit:

Visitors to Yosemite National Park are treated to a wealth of natural wonders and outdoor adventures. Here are some highlights not to be missed:

  • Yosemite Valley: Explore the iconic Yosemite Valley, a glacially carved wonderland surrounded by towering granite cliffs such as El Capitan and Half Dome. Marvel at the sheer beauty of Yosemite Falls, North America’s tallest waterfall, as it plunges over 2,400 feet (730 meters) into the valley below.
  • Mariposa Grove: Discover the ancient giants of Mariposa Grove, home to over 500 mature sequoia trees, including the famed Grizzly Giant and California Tunnel Tree. Wander along shaded trails as towering sequoias soar overhead, immersing yourself in the serenity of this ancient forest.
  • Glacier Point: Soak in panoramic views of Yosemite’s iconic landmarks from Glacier Point, a breathtaking overlook perched 3,214 feet (980 meters) above the valley floor. Watch as the sun sets behind Half Dome, painting the sky with hues of orange and pink, or embark on a moonlit hike to witness the valley bathed in silver light.
Closest Major Airport:

The closest major airport to Yosemite National Park is Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT), located approximately 65 miles (105 kilometers) southwest of the park.

Sequoia National Park

Home to the world’s most giant trees, pristine wilderness, and breathtaking vistas, Sequoia National Park offers visitors a glimpse into the timeless beauty of the natural world. 

Sequoia National Park’s story began over a century ago when conservationists and nature enthusiasts rallied to protect the ancient groves of giant sequoias that thrive within its boundaries. When Sequoia Park was established in 1890, it was designated to preserve these magnificent trees and pristine mountain landscapes. Today, Sequoia National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a sanctuary for biodiversity, drawing visitors from around the globe to marvel at its natural wonders.

Highlights of a Visit:

Visitors to Sequoia National Park should be sure to check out the following highlights:

  • Giant Forest: Explore the legendary Giant Forest, home to some of the world’s largest and oldest trees, including the iconic General Sherman Tree. Stroll among towering sequoias as sunlight filters through the canopy above, illuminating the forest floor with dappled light.
  • Moro Rock: Ascend the granite staircase of Moro Rock to reach an awe-inspiring vista overlooking the park’s rugged terrain. Enjoy panoramic views of the Great Western Divide, the Kaweah River Valley, and the distant peaks of the Sierra Nevada from this lofty perch.
  • Crystal Cave: Descend into the underground world of Crystal Cave, a mesmerizing labyrinth of stalactites, stalagmites, and delicate formations sculpted by water over millions of years. Join a guided tour to explore the cave’s otherworldly beauty and learn about its geological history. Due to wildfires and extreme winter weather damage, this park area is closed for the 2024 season.
Closest Major Airport:

The closest major airport to Sequoia National Park is Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT), located approximately 80 miles (130 kilometers) southwest of the park. 

Kings Canyon National Park

Nestled in the heart of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Kings Canyon National Park is often grouped with Sequoia National Park. With its rugged canyons, towering peaks, and pristine wilderness, this hidden gem offers visitors a glimpse into the untamed splendor of the American West. 

Kings Canyon National Park’s story is one of natural wonder and human perseverance. The park’s origins can be traced back to the early 20th century when conservationists and outdoor enthusiasts rallied to protect the pristine landscapes of the Sierra Nevada mountains from logging and development. Established in 1940, Kings Canyon National Park preserves a vast expanse of wilderness, including the deep, glacier-carved canyon for which it is named. Today, the park serves as a sanctuary for biodiversity, providing a haven for various plant and animal species.

Highlights of a Visit:

Kings Canyon National Park visitors have a wealth of natural wonders and outdoor adventures. Here are some highlights not to be missed:

  • Kings Canyon: Explore the breathtaking depths of Kings Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in North America. Marvel at the sheer granite walls that rise thousands of feet above the valley floor as you hike along scenic trails such as the Mist Falls Trail or the Zumwalt Meadow Loop.
  • Sequoia Groves: Discover the ancient giants of the park’s sequoia groves, including the famed General Grant Tree, one of the largest trees on Earth. Wander among towering giants as sunlight filters through the canopy above, illuminating the forest floor with dappled light.
  • Roaring Rivers: Relax and unwind beside the park’s pristine rivers and streams, which offer excellent opportunities for fishing, swimming, and picnicking. Cast a line and try your luck at catching trout, or dip your toes in the cool, clear waters as you soak in the serene beauty of the surrounding landscape.
Closest Major Airport:

The closest major airport to Kings Canyon National Park is Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT), located approximately 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of the park.

Foggy sunset at Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park Photo By Polina Kuzovkova from Unsplash

Pinnacles National Park

Nestled in the rugged terrain of Central California, Pinnacles National Park features unique rock formations, diverse wildlife, and scenic trails; this lesser-known park offers visitors a chance to explore a landscape shaped by millions of years of volcanic activity. 

The story of Pinnacles National Park began over 23 million years ago when volcanic eruptions blanketed the region with ash and lava. Over time, erosion sculpted the landscape, creating the dramatic rock formations and rugged terrain that define the park today. In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt designated the area as a national monument to protect its unique geological features. In 2013, Pinnacles was designated as a national park, safeguarding its natural wonders for future generations.

Highlights of a Visit:

For visitors to Pinnacles National Park, here are some highlights not to be missed:

  • Rock Formations: Explore the park’s iconic rock formations, including the towering spires and sheer cliffs that give Pinnacles its name. Hike along scenic trails such as the High Peaks Trail or the Balconies Cave Trail to get close to these geological wonders and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
  • Caves and Talus Caves: Delve into the park’s network of talus caves, formed by massive boulders wedged between narrow canyons. Embark on a spelunking adventure through passages adorned with stalactites and stalagmites, or marvel at the otherworldly beauty of formations like the Bear Gulch Cave.
  • Wildlife Viewing: Look for the park’s diverse wildlife, including California condors, prairie falcons, and Townsend’s big-eared bats. Birdwatchers will delight in spotting rare species, such as the peregrine falcon and the western bluebird. At the same time, photographers will find endless opportunities to capture stunning images of the park’s natural inhabitants.
Closest Major Airport:

The closest major airport to Pinnacles National Park is Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC), located approximately 90 miles (145 kilometers) northwest of the park. 

Death Valley National Park

Nestled in the desolate Mojave Desert in California, Death Valley National Park beckons adventurers with its stark beauty and extreme landscapes and is one of the most unique West Coast National Parks. From towering dunes to salt flats and rugged mountains to colorful canyons, this iconic park offers visitors a chance to explore one of Earth’s hottest and driest places. 

The history of Death Valley National Park is as rugged and unforgiving as its landscape. For thousands of years, indigenous peoples such as the Timbisha Shoshone have inhabited the area, adapting to its harsh conditions and carving out a way of life in the desert. In the late 19th century, prospectors and miners flocked to the region for gold, silver, and other precious minerals, leaving behind a legacy of boomtowns and ghost towns. In 1994, Death Valley was designated as a national park, preserving its unique geological features and cultural heritage for future generations to explore and enjoy.

Highlights of a Visit:

Death Valley National Park visitors should be sure to check out the following outdoor adventures:

  • Badwater Basin: Explore the lowest point in North America at Badwater Basin, a vast salt flat that stretches for miles beneath the scorching desert sun. Marvel at the surreal landscape of crystalline salt formations and ephemeral salt flats, and walk out onto the salt pan for a truly unique experience.
  • Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes: Wander among the mesmerizing dunes of Mesquite Flat, where towering peaks and rippling ridges create a shifting landscape of light and shadow. Climb to the top of the highest dune for panoramic views of the surrounding desert and mountains, or sit back and watch as the sun sets over the horizon.
  • Artist’s Palette: Drive along the scenic Artist’s Drive to discover the vibrant hues of Artist’s Palette, a colorful canyon known for its striking rock formations and mineral deposits. Marvel at the rich palette of reds, oranges, yellows, and greens that adorn the canyon walls, and watch as the colors shift and change in the shifting light.
Closest Major Airport:

The closest major airport to Death Valley National Park is McCarran International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas, Nevada, located approximately 120 miles (193 kilometers) east of the park. 

The multi color hills of Death Valley National Park.
Death Valley National Park Photo By Venti Views from Unsplash

Channel Islands National Park

Off the coast of Southern California, Channel Islands National Park offers a sanctuary of natural beauty and biodiversity. With its rugged coastlines, secluded beaches, and diverse marine life, this archipelago beckons adventurers to explore its pristine wilderness.

For thousands of years, the islands have been home to indigenous peoples such as the Chumash and Tongva, who thrived in harmony with the land and sea. In the 16th century, European explorers began to chart the waters around the islands, followed by settlers and ranchers in the 19th century. In 1980, Channel Islands National Park was established, preserving the islands’ unique cultural heritage and natural resources.

Highlights of a Visit:

Channel Islands National Park visitors are treated to a range of natural wonders and outdoor adventures. Here are some highlights not to be missed:

  • Scenic Hiking Trails: Explore the islands’ rugged landscapes on scenic hiking trails that wind through pristine wilderness areas. Each trail offers a unique perspective on the islands’ natural beauty and diverse ecosystems, from coastal bluffs to verdant valleys.
  • Kayaking and Snorkeling: Discover the park’s rich marine life by kayaking through sea caves and kelp forests or snorkeling in crystal-clear waters. Look for dolphins, seals, and sea lions, as well as colorful fish and vibrant coral reefs that thrive in the park’s protected waters.
  • Wildlife Viewing: Experience close encounters with the islands’ diverse wildlife, including endemic species such as the island fox and the Channel Islands spotted skunk. Birdwatchers will delight in the chance to spot rare seabirds nesting along the rocky cliffs, such as the California brown pelican and the western gull.
Closest Major Airport:

The closest major airport to this offshore West Coast National Park is Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), located approximately 60 miles (97 kilometers) southeast of the park. The only way to the islands is by boat, which can be arranged through Island Packers, the park’s concessionaire.

Joshua Tree National Park

In Southern California’s arid deserts, Joshua Tree National Park is known for its iconic Joshua trees, towering rock formations, and star-studded night skies. This enchanting park offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the natural wonders of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. 

For centuries, indigenous peoples such as the Cahuilla and the Chemehuevi have inhabited the region, adapting to the harsh desert environment, and in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, miners, ranchers, and homesteaders flocked to the area in search of gold, silver, and other precious minerals, leaving behind remnants of their presence in the form of abandoned mines and homesteads. In 1936, Joshua Tree was designated as a national monument. In 1994, it was elevated to national park status, preserving its unique desert ecosystems and geological formations for future generations.

Highlights of a Visit:

Joshua Tree National Park visitors will find a park filled with strange and beautiful sights and outdoor adventures. Here are some highlights of the last of the 13 amazing West Coast National Parks on our list not to be missed:

  • Joshua Tree Forests: Explore the park’s iconic Joshua tree forests, where these otherworldly plants dot the landscape with their twisted, spiky branches. Marvel at the resilience of these ancient trees as they thrive amidst the harsh desert conditions and take in the stunning vistas of the surrounding desert landscape.
  • Rock Climbing: Test your skills on the park’s world-class rock climbing routes, which attract climbers from around the globe with their challenging climbs and breathtaking views. Whether you’re a seasoned climber or a beginner, there are routes for every skill level.
  • Stargazing: Experience the magic of Joshua Tree’s dark skies by stargazing at one of the park’s designated stargazing spots. On a clear night, the Milky Way stretches across the sky like a river of stars, offering a glimpse into the vastness of the universe.
Closest Major Airport:

The closest major airport to Joshua Tree National Park is Palm Springs International Airport (PSP), located approximately 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of the park. 

Joshua trees against the horizon in Joshua Tree National Park.
Joshua Tree National Park Photo By Alessandro Rossi from Unsplash

Tour The 13 National Parks On The West Coast!

Embarking on a journey through the 13 incredible West Coast National Parks and exploring the breathtaking landscapes and diverse ecosystems is an adventure. From the towering peaks of the Cascade Range to the sun-kissed deserts of Southern California, each national park offers a unique and unforgettable experience. As we’ve traversed through the 13 stunning national parks in Washington State, Oregon, and California, we’ve witnessed the raw beauty and rich biodiversity that define the heart and soul of the American West.

Visitors travel from north to south with an incredibly diverse collection of natural wonders. While covering all the parks in one epic road trip may seem daunting, the journey is undoubtedly worth the time and effort. Whether you have 60 hours to spare driving from park to park for an unforgettable adventure or prefer to break the trip into smaller sections, exploring these national parks promises to be an enriching and awe-inspiring experience.

So, pack your bags, hit the road, and immerse yourself in the timeless beauty of any or all of the West Coast National Parks. From the rugged wilderness of North Cascades to the majestic splendor of Yosemite, each park has something unique to offer. Whether you’re hiking through ancient forests, marveling at towering waterfalls, or stargazing beneath a canopy of stars, the wonders of the West Coast await your discovery. Let the adventure begin!

Below are links and resources to help you plan The perfect trip

Travel Resources

  • HOTELS
    Booking.com and Expedia.com are great resources for accommodations around the world. Book almost any hotel directly from these links.
  • TOURS
    The best places to book tours and activities are Viator or Get Your Guide . From great food tours to guided hiking adventures to local walking tours, you will find great experiences to add to your travels here.
  • FOOD EXPERIENCES
    EatWith is a great resource for authentic culinary experiences with passionate locals worldwide. Connecting travelers with hosts in over 130 countries, providing unique, intimate, and immersive experiences in private homes and exclusive venues.
  • TRAINS
    Trainline is Europe’s leading train and coach app. They work with over 210 rail and coach companies to help their customers travel to thousands of destinations across 45 countries. 

The links above contain product affiliate links. We may receive a commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links. But your support of Fork & Wander is greatly appreciated!

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